It's true that eating in is more cost-effective, but there are those times, whether it be a special occasion or you just don't feel like cooking, you go sit down and eat at a restaurant. People on Quora and Reddit shared tips to save while dining out, because TBH, it can really add up!
1."Look for 'hole in the wall' places known for their food. In a city you don't know, ask your taxi driver where they themselves like to eat. You'll pay about the same for a burrito at a chain versus the local taqueria, but the latter will often be the better meal, and you'll probably support a local family instead of corporate offices operating a giant chain. The place that doesn't pay high rent doesn't need to pass the cost on to customers and can often be more innovative."
2."Eat out during lunch, rather than dinner. Oftentimes, restaurants will charge a premium for dinner. Said another way, lunch prices will be cheaper."
3."Look for restaurants with lots of customers. It means the food is good or prices are good, but hopefully both. Do check ratings on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor."
4."At some restaurants, you can get nearly identical items by ordering in a slightly unorthodox manner. For example, instead of ordering a Big Mac at McDonald's, you can order a McDouble with lettuce and Big Mac sauce on it. Similarly, at Subway, you can get a cheaper version of the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich by ordering double steak and cheese. At Jack in the Box, it is cheaper to get two mini bacon burgers instead of a double bacon burger; and it is cheaper to get multiple four-piece nuggets from McDonald's rather than a 12 or 24-piece (and you get more sauces as well)."
5."I like going out to eat occasionally, so I save in other areas so I can spend here. That's the point of a budget, in my opinion, to identify loss or wastage of money so you can stop it and redirect it to the spending areas that are important for you."
6."Drinks are definitely a profit-maker for the restaurant, so if you are looking for a way to eat out but save a little money, start there first."
7."Look for good combos or other deals. Use Groupon. Use Restaurant.com. Sign up for all the rewards programs. You get lots of free stuff to entice you to visit again."
8."Take a look at restaurants’ websites for deals and specials. Many restaurants offer half-price wine or a meal special on Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays when many restaurants are slow."
9."If you do eat out, order things that you can't make at home. What's the point of going out for burgers and fries or steak if you can make that at home? Sure, it's not quite the same (yours might be even better than a restaurant!), but it beats paying for something you can replicate."
10."I sometimes order takeout from the restaurant instead of dining in to avoid having to tip. Of course, if you are given excellent curbside service, you can still tip, but it's not expected."
11."Groupon is great, but watch out for the fine print (e.g., recently, we used a Groupon that said it wasn't valid on 'lunch specials,' but it turned out that was code for 'you cannot use this Groupon at all before a certain time of day'). They do expire, but if your Groupon expires unused, you get your money back, so it's very low risk. You can also reserve tables with OpenTable and get points toward a $20 gift certificate to the restaurant of your choice. If you're not picky about where you eat, you can just search for 1,000-point tables and end up essentially getting $10 back every time you eat out."
12.Finally, "One word of caution...if you are using a coupon to get money off the dinner you’re eating, tip for what the entire cost of the dinner would have been before the discount, because the server has brought everything to you that you ordered. It is not appropriate to cheat the server when they are making sure that you are getting everything you deserve as a customer."